IPCC warning: India must lead

Children are seen during climate march prior to the opening session of the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference 2017 in World Conference Center Bonn, Germany. REUTERS file photo

The special report on global warming prepared by the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released earlier this week, has sent out another warning about the increasing dangers of lack of action on climate change. The report says that climate change is happening faster than estimated and is getting ahead of the world. It has updated the challenge and revised the prescriptions for addressing it. The 2015 Paris climate agreement had set a target to keep the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Centigrade above pre-industrial levels. The report thinks this is inadequate and seeks to bring it down to 1.5 degrees, as a rise in temperature above this level could be catastrophic. There is room for only a 0.5 degree rise because the global average temperature has already risen by 1 degree over the average temperature in the pre-industrial era. It warns that even half a degree of warming would result in drastic changes in the ecosystem in the form of heat waves, droughts and flooding, rise in sea levels and extinction of many living species. 

The report says it is possible to meet the new stringent target if the world manages to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reaches a “net zero’’ stage by 2050 through changes and improvements in all fields of activity like industry, agriculture, transport and energy production and use. This is easier said than done. There is hardly any progress in the efforts to achieve even the moderate targets set by the Paris meet. Technology and finances are the most important factors in the adoption of mitigation and adaptation strategies. The developing countries need both technology and finance from the rich countries which are loathe to part with either. The Paris meet had decided to set up a Green Climate Fund of $100 billion to be made available to developing countries by 2020. Not even 10% of the contributions have been made. A meeting in Bangkok last month to discuss this concluded without any decision. 

The rules to implement the Paris accord will have to be finalised this year at a meeting of all countries slated to be held in Katowice in Poland in December. The present plans and promises will have to be reworked in accordance with the new target set by the IPCC. There is little scope for optimism on this, going by past experience. The US has withdrawn from the agreement. Other rich countries are going slow on their commitments. Developing countries like India will be hit more than other countries by climate change. It should make special efforts to help and persuade the world to arrive at an effective action plan at the earliest and implement it seriously and expeditiously. 

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IPCC warning: India must lead

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